Madhya Pradesh forest department is considering a proposal to fell over 550 trees to make way for a tiger safari in its Pench national park, known as home to ‘Mowgli’, a fictional character and protagonist in English writer Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’.
The forest department has started working on a project to create tiger safari in the park straddling Seoni and Chhindwara districts of the state. It has been proposed to erect a boundary wall which would require pruning of shrubs and felling of 556 trees, according to an order issued by Pench national park’s authorities.
However, the plan has got stuck for want of permission of Delhi-based National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). The decision to cut 556 trees has, however, been criticised by wildlife activists who termed it as a violation of rules.
“We are against the creation of tiger safari inside Pench national park. There has been continuous cases of tiger deaths in Madhya Pradesh. The state government instead of taking steps towards protection of tigers is trying to reduce the green cover and increasing people’s activities. The NTCA must reject this plan,” said Ajay Dubey, on whose petition Supreme Court had in 2010 banned tourism inside tiger reserves.
Pench national park or tiger reserve is known world over as home to ‘Mowgli’– a man-cub said to have been spotted there. The park, sprawling over 758 square kms, is located on the southern boundary of Madhya Pradesh, bordering Maharashtra.
It has 299 sq kms core area of Indira Priyadarshini Pench national park and the Mowgli Pench Sanctuary. The remaining 464 sq km is the buffer area.
There are six tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh–Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Panna, Bori-Satpura, Sanjay-Dubri and Pench — which have about 257 big cats. While the tiger population in the country was estimated at 1,706 in 2010, it had risen to 2,226 in 2014.
Madhya Pradesh ranks third — after Karnataka and Uttarakhand — in tiger population in the country.